EESI Partnership Roundtable Event

Blog Contributor: Allison Clark

Greenspaces, such as those found within Niagara Parks, have great ecological and social importance.  For example, c onnecting with nature can provide benefits to physical and mental health. Th Covid-19 pandemic  has increased the need for people to get outside and connect with nature. As a result,  human activity  in greenspaces has increased substantially,  which has in tur creat ed  challenges for park s  management.  To ensure ecological integrity is being upheld  while  also  protecting visitor safety , new trail management strategies should be considered.  

To discuss how Niagara Parks  can  navigate the increased use of greenspaces, a roundtable event was held on October 20 th , 2020. This event brought together individuals from the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) and 全球电竞直播 . This event was made possible by the Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Initiative (EESI) – a partnership between NPC and Brock. During this event, 全球电竞直播 ’s   master’s  students, Samantha Witkowski and John Foster ,  presented their research pertaining to greenspaces within Niagara Parks. Implications of these research findings were discussed with regards to   the  management   of  greenspaces .  

Samantha’s presentation was titled: Examining Stakeholder Perceptions in Monitoring and Evaluation of Environmental Management.  Samantha   presented two different studies. The first study examined inter-group differences in the perceptions of key performance indicators (KPIs) for viewpoints. Results  showed  that stakeholders, tourists,  local residents , and environmental managers perceived KPIs differently in Niagara Parks. For example, stakeholders perceived view quality and vegetation as the most important KPIs, whereas environmental managers perceived viewpoint KPIs more critically. The second study explored the influence of engaging in a collaborative, or participatory monitoring and evaluation process on stakeholder perceptions of KPIs for trails. For this study, Samantha had stakeholders rank KPIs from what they perceived as most important to least important in terms of trail management. Stakeholders were  then  required to take a KPI workshop and re-rank KPIs. Results from this study showed that stakeholders perceptions of important KPIs for trail management differed significantly following the KPI workshop. Furthermore, it was noted that discussion, communication, and learning opportunities contributed to perception change. A main takeaway from Samantha’s research was  that   the  NPC should move away from strictly expert-led, ecologically focused trail management  approaches and move  towards the inclusion of stakeholder perceptions in environmental management ,   monitoring and evaluation .  

John’s presentation was titled: Niagara Glen Trails Assessment, Summer 2020. John’s research highlighted some challenges associated with increased human traffic in the Niagara Glen, as well as some short-term and long-term solutions to address increased traffic along the trail. John outlined challenges associated with   social trails (networks of unauthorized trail s ),  and  visitor safety  and communication. To protect ecological and human health at  the  Niagara Glen, John proposed that the NPC implement s  visitor education sessions, increases signage, and creates effective trail maps.  

Overall, this roundtable event worked to successfully discuss how  the NPC   should   navigate  in creased us age  of greenspaces.  The research findings presented by Samantha and John were received very well by members of the EESI, and  the  NPC were very receptive to suggestions  for improved  environmental and   trail management.    

Categories: Applied Research , Blog , Environmental Stewardship Initiative , Event , SSAS Student Contributor